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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beating Our Parents

Beating our parents...Not beating as in pummeling, but passing our parent's time lines in the race of life. That's what I want to talk about.

We all wonder about when our number will be called. If we manage to avoid being road kill or involved in other untimely accidents that take our life, then how do we gauge how long we might expect to live?

By looking at our family history. The "crystal ball of probability" I call it. Unfortunately for me, my paternal grandparents were road kill in their early 50's, my maternal grandfather was shot in the war at a very young age and my maternal grandmother smoked her way to lung cancer.

When Dad turned 60-ish, things began to happen with himself and his six siblings. Heart valve issues from plaque, high lipid concerns, almost everyone had to have a bypass or two. Then in his seventies, his sister died of bowel cancer.

After Mom died from pancreatic cancer, I wondered about my having told my physician that no, cancer did not run in my family. It wasn't hereditary. But as I've learned, wait long enough and almost everyone will better their chance at getting their cancer lottery ticket called.

For me, this means that the system of comparing our life length with that of our parents is no longer a safe gauge.

Fifty percent of the people getting cancers today could not have prevented them, meaning a good portion are  hereditary. Some families have long lineages of heart disease or cancer and so early detection and proper preventative measures should be taken without question.

 But the other  50%  need to understand that getting cancer is now more about lifestyle and what goes on and in your body. Don't think because cancer does not run in your family that you will avoid  it. The toxins we apply between beauty products, cleaning products and sun tan booths, the air pollutants, the cigarette smoke. Additives in packaged foods mixed with high acidic red meat, sodas, too much alcohol, not enough good clean water: all these things accumulate your cancer lottery tickets until one day you discover the reason you have been so abysmally tired is due to a cancer growing inside of you.

I don't want that to happen to me again. After understanding that my breast cancer was highly avoidable had I drank more water and less wine, eaten more fish and chicken instead of red meat, taken up yoga for my stress, eaten more natural sweeteners than refined sugars, then I could have given my body a better fighting chance to battle the cancer when it started to take off with my life.

Thankfully, donations towards cancer research enabled the medical profession to discover the micro metastasis already detached from my breast tumor, heading off to infiltrate more of me. That had not been possible as early as one year prior to that find. So count me doubly fortunate.

But will YOU be so fortunate? Why take chances in a lottery that is guaranteed to reduce your length of stay on the top side of the grass?

Because Mom died of pancreatic cancer, something I still do not consider "herditary" in our family but a by-product of the canned soup, packaged sauce and meal era, I am trying hard to buy better all-natural products, drink no more than a couple of alcoholic drinks a MONTH, cut out the crap as much as possible (and still enjoy my life!), exercise more, use my aromatherapy stress-buster, eat more kale and drink more water, just so that I can still BEAT her 73 years.

 My goal is 75. That might seem young, but given my toxic overload through CT Scans, chemotherapy and a penchant for cigarettes and 20-30 drinks a week for years, I figure that's a high bench mark.

Who do you want to beat and what are you doing to make that happen?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Better Choices...



“It’s a cancer lottery,” says DebiLyn Smith, author of Running From Cancer: a tilted memoir. “The more bad choices you make the more tickets you give yourself. The more tickets, the greater the possibility cancer will tap you on the shoulder and say ‘next’.”

A Northern BC breast cancer survivor for four years now, Smith wrote about her experience as a “ chocolate gorging, wine swilling, exercise wanker” that lost half a breast before experiencing baldness in the “chemo fast-lane”and sticking her tongue out at the large rotating radiating laser head as it passed across her flesh. “I took one for the team so that you don’t have to,” she says. I wrote this book to hit you over the head, with humour and inspiration, but to show you why you want to do EVERYTHING you can to avoid going down this road. Having cancer will change your life. If you are supplying your body with the ammunition it needs to fight back when a cancer cell sparks up, then you have a greater chance of never having to sit across from your doctor and hear those life-changing words, 'you have cancer'.”

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, almost 50 % of cancers can be prevented. ( Smith says, “If you are supplying your body with the ammunition it needs to fight back when a cancer cell turns rogue, then you have a greater chance of never having to sit across from your doctor and hear those life-changing words, ‘you have cancer.’”

 “I’m one of the people that closed my eyes and hoped to outrun cancer but cancer ran right over me and flattened me like road kill. I got mad that I went through the ordeal and now want to help others avoid that same fate. It’s time to wake up out there.”

Smith’s book includes tips, recipes and a love story. Her website at offers more information on cancer prevention and healthy recipes.

Smith will be in Prince George at Ave Maria on 20th Ave this Friday from 11-5, at Coles Book Store Pine Center Mall from 11-4:30 on Saturday and at the CIBC Run For the Cure on stage at 10 on Sunday. Proceeds from DebiLyn’s book sales are shared with her BV Health Care and Hospital Foundation and the many cancer fundraisers that she attends.

For contact, please use

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Slipping Through the Medical Cracks

Not one or two, but half a dozen horror stories surfaced during my tour across BC with my book Running From Cancer: a tilted memoir. The story of someone waiting six months to get an appointment to see the specialist only to discover their paperwork never MADE it to the specialist's office. A phone from the doctor's receptionist makes the discovery and the wait must begin again. Talk about losing your hair... never mind the chemo...I'd pull mine out from the sheer frustration.

How about this one- a 59 year-old super healthy male had tests done in January from his not feeling good with pain in one certain area that was constant. While waiting for news, he turned yellow and lost a pile of weight he could ill afford. He did have an appointment to talk to a surgeon in Vancouver but he  never made it that far. In mid May, a week before his appointment,  he went to the hospital in excruciating pain, which once they got under control, his time ran out. His kidneys shut down. Within days we lost him. This was a man that would have been on the first plane to Mexico to be bombarded by every treatment available, but once the kidneys packed it in, we were told there was nothing to be done. I saw this man a week before he went in hospital. Knowing he was getting worse by the day, he said, "I don't know what to do? Have I a week,a  month, a year to live? I don't know what to think anymore!"
The problem? He had put his entire faith in his doctor's hands. After the family requested a copy of the test results from January, the Doctor admitted he dropped the ball- he never read the test results about the liver cancer. The papers had been filed and never read again until the family requested them. A court case is pending.No shit!

Then there was the lady who was told repeatedly her stomach pain was nothing-, to continue with the antacids. After insisting on more tests,  her wish was granted, albeit postponed a few times in a row. The results then sat on the doctor's desk  for weeks while on his holidays. Upon his return, the lady was in hospital with pain too intense to ever get out again. Time wasted that might  have been invaluable to her family.

How about this: A friend of mine waits over a year to see a specialist, gets the OK for the operation and while on the table, the anesthetist comments on her wait, "You should have complained harder." Really? Is that what we need to do? Become obnoxious whiners? Maybe make things out to be worse than they are to get ahead of the guy behind us? That's not slipping through a medical crack, but it shows you that there ARE serious issues in our medical overload.

Besides being overwhelmed with the baby boomers aging faster than bananas that have been frozen, our doctors are being top-loaded and inundated with a system already overtaxed.

Of course there are fail safes so that these things don't happen BUT, we're dealing with human error here and anything that gets overloaded will start to smoke under pressure.

So what can YOU do to make sure you don't fall into this chasm?

First off, when a doctor orders a test done on you, you have the right to receive a copy of the results. That means, after you have sat before the doctor who explains as best as she/he can in layman terms what it is you have and need, you can take that test copy home with you and have another chance to go over it. Lots of times a doctor will press you to make a decision based on test results while still in their office. Sometimes their opinion of what you should do might NOT be in your best interest. Maybe, say for breast cancer, instead of going through a lumpectomy to remove a small tumour, you might want to see about removing the entire breast instead of facing  a possibility of a recurrence later down the road. For many of us, the thought that cancer may pop up again NEVER leaves your mind. Maybe you want a second opinion on how to handle the situation, possibly non-traditionally through naturalists/herbalists and other trained specialists. I wouldn't recommend that, but some people want to give it a try and it is their right to do so.

Second, know that your health is your responsibility, NOT your physician's. Giving yourself over completely to the care of your doctor is not your best move. You need to work with them, but not totally rely on one of the busiest people you may ever meet. Your doctor is possibly juggling dozens of people's charts, concerns, tests and results every day. See how you can get lost in that?
After seeing a patient, most doctors make notes in the patient's charts. But what if they get distracted, pulled away for a bit of time, maybe they have a crisis at home ... anything can happen.

What am I saying? Look out for yourself and your loved ones. Follow through on test appointments, ask questions about how long before you can expect calls and answers and then mark that on your calendar. Take notes while in a doctor's office. Use the phone and talk to receptionists at specialist's yourself. Find out how backed up a doctor is, if they received your paper work. Do what you need to do, but do NOT just sit there and wait for your doctor to come to your rescue. It may never happen.

And wouldn't that be sad, if you lost your life because of a crack in an over-loaded system. Maybe your name was misspelled or your file was buried in the wrong row. Possibly someone's dog ate it- (worked for me in Grade School)? You going to bet your life that no-one will make a mistake when it becomes your turn?

Guess what- it's only going to get worse! So get over it and get out there and squeak (nicely, please!)if you have to, just do what you can to help prevent slipping into the ever-widening chasm of today's medical world.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just Like Robin Williams

My heart goes out to Robin William’s family on the recent passing of someone I much admired and related to. With his seemingly manic ups and reportedly lowest of lows, I always figured we were alike:  classic ADHDers. Robin's People magazine obit labeled him with my nickname “whirling dervish” but it was hearing how he had suffered for years from depression that clinched it.

Depression is such a BIG word in so many ways. My experience with it has opened my eyes to many facets of the disorder, because that is what depression is: a DIS-ORDER; something out of the ordinary and in my case (and I suspect in Robin William's) a chemical imbalance in the brain that can swirl emotions and thoughts into a Helter Skelter world where nothing makes sense anymore. 

Depression is not a disease that you catch. It can develop after a devastating or shocking incident like the death of a loved one, a post-partem blue, the loss of health or self-image. For others of us, it is hereditary. My mother was prone to depression and as I unconsciously scratch my wrist into bloodied shreds, I often think of her with the same scabs on her arms, the highs and the lows we followed her through, the whispering about her "bad nerves." My brother committed suicide three years ago: an unfortunate result of abruptly stopping his anti-depression medication. Add to that my breast cancer ordeal through two surgeries, chemo, radiation and reconstruction and you have a recipe for despondency.

Whatever way it comes, depression can be all-consuming and it can take your life.

To the outside world, Robin Williams, comedian/actor, was as large as life. He had everything, or so it seemed. How could a man so FULL of life, turn life down?
Reports state that Robin was a happily married father of three adult children with many blessings that I am sure outweighed any troubles on the outside. A person without this infliction knows that and has that to reach out to when things get too far down. It should be enough to pull you forward.

With depression, you can know that everything in your life is amazing and still be "depressed" or feel abysmally lower than dirt for no apparent reason. Even without the physical symptoms of pain, living can be painful enough for you to want to end it.

 Let me give you some insight into a moment of depression: You are standing on a ledge between life and death with such despair and grief for yourself that the world outside of your own perceived horror is a mere haze standing behind you. At that moment, nothing else matters- not family, loved ones, thoughts of consequences, of the after math if you do leave. You do not think of the future that is still to come with its promise of rich memories, of a possible resolution to the emotional nightmare. All that matters is ending the hurt of it all: silencing the voice in your head that speaks of your worthlessness, inadequacy, of never getting anything right. You beat yourself with any image that proves what your mind tells you of your failings. You flog and writhe and commiserate until you beg for the peace you know must exist somewhere.

When a person gets to that stage, if they are not backed away from the ledge by a rational thought, by someone else recognizing their call to self-destruct, then that person might succeed in ending what might have been alleviated by counselling and medication. 

I stress the words might have.

Anti-depressants can alleviate the imbalance and a person can achieve harmony. But life doesn't always work the way it should.

Drugs and psychotherapy are well touted in their success rate but sometimes good things come with a price. Anti-depressants can also cause depression for some and like all drugs, these pills come with a list of possible side-effects. The ones that worked the best for stabilizing me were also creating havoc with my health in other areas- enough that I had to start weening off of them. This was much more difficult than I thought it would be and as I approached square one I found myself getting weepy again. Unless I am purposefully exercising, I have no energy to start something new. I have lost interest in any on-going projects, of things I used to love to do. And I am experiencing past flare-ups of temper, of unexplainable rages before crashing into the basement of despair again. It's all so unfair- to have glimpsed peacefulness only to have it taken away. Back to the drawing board. Sigh. I will get through this. 

Not everyone does.

I want to help you understand that people who are depressed need help. Professional help. A slap on the back or a reminder that things will seem better tomorrow can sink them further into oblivion. Depressed people can have blocks that prevent them from seeing things rationally. Simply being depressed depresses them further.

If you know someone who suffers from this dilemma, help them to see that they need help. Realizing one has a disorder is half the battle. The other half is seeking aid. If they're not already doing it, they need to be assessed by a health professional who can point that person in the right direction for the next steps.  
If they're a loved one, take the time to tell them what they mean to you or how they have positively impacted on your life. A hug can be an amazing gesture but at the very least, encourage them to reach out for help.

Severely depressed people can be open targets for their own missiles so you should never blame yourself if the missile manages to hit its target. You can only hope that the need to push the button is contained by whatever helps us to remain. For me it's a will to see the future. I honestly want to stay here for my children and their's. My body and mind may be failing me, but my desire to hold and smell and nurture my descendants, and my need to help reduce the world's number of patients facing cancer will hopefully tether me for some time to come.

But sometimes, there are those days. Days when the drag outweighs the buoyancy to stay afloat and you begin to sink.

Unfortunately for his family, no-one was able to save Robin Williams before he drowned, choked to death by a belt around his neck.

May he finally be at peace.

When things are at their worst, it means they can only get better. Ain't no way but "up" from the bottom. Or so I tell myself.

If you are depressed, I strongly urge you to seek professional help. Your local Health Clinic can offer you more information in your area.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


He's been telling me for years to stop changing my mind! His voice is usually strained, higher pitched than normal and quite obviously wrought with sincerity and hope that THIS time I will get what he means.

I also have a great friend who spent a few years chastising me every time we got together "but you SAID...and now you're saying this?" until I guess she gave up and realized I would probably change my mind yet again. Who can keep up? Sometimes I can't keep up to the changes I make myself.

I DO try to keep my promises. Those don't change. But if there's a "better way" to do anything, I feel I can and will and should try. I know I SAID I would do it one way, but  after further investigation, or a better understanding , a cheaper price elsewhere, a better day, better weather, (there are 1000+ reasons WHY), I will change my mind, the plan or the thing. Always for "everyone's benefit" I am sure.

For fifty plus years I never figured this a problem, as long as I was considerate enough to notify others. Usually the plan would make it better for EVERYONE concerned. My husband and friends would hopefully one day learn to roll a little faster to keep up with these betterments. Right??

 I finally am starting to see that the answer is actually WRONG!  It took a few events at my daughter's wedding last week to see that quite often one change for the better for me, can dwindle down to one big change to make things worse for someone else.I managed to see it because for once, the plans changed ON ME- by other people and I was left facing the awkwardness of  more than one situation.

It's a bit of a habit in our family- everyone out for what suits him or her best. Let everyone else fend for what's left? Maybe they've been watching me do it for myself all these years and it has finally come back to bite me in the bus I almost had a mutiny on an hour before the wedding. It definitely bit me when the nth hour had a change in the rehearsed seating of the parent's sides.I still don't know why it happened, only that I got to see the awkwardness of my bride's father and step-father trying to get around each other as we stood behind him and not on the other side of Karly. Water under the bridge my bride tells me. So why does it still taste so bitter?

Can I be seeing that by changing something to best suit me, it may not be what best suits the people possibly behind the scenes or someone I had NOT thought about? Or that by taking one choice and not sticking to it, I domino others who make their decision based on mine and then will possibly need to change as well? 

Why is it so hard to decide on something in the first place? Ever order the Orange Tiger ice cream and then immediately wish you'd gone for chocolate mint instead? Happens to me all the time.

Saying that, I can see it's not going to be an over-night change into a one-decision gal. BUT, I am now aware of how bad an attitude that it is: right up there with being selfish, tyrranical, devil-may-care about anyone standing in line behind me. It's sad because I wasn't raised that way. And I spend so much time trying NOT to be like that. I figured I was such a giving, caring person. But it seems I am only like that until it comes down to my own choices.Then I figure it's all about what I want. Or think I want at that moment, reserving the choice to change my mind.

So, I'm going to try and work on it. It's all I can do at this point. Show by example to my family. And for once, I am not going to change my mind  about that or try and change anyone else's mind  about the matter, either.

Gives YOU something to think about, I hope.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Right after a recent talk I gave I had a person attending send me an e-mail challenging a fact I had stated. They correctly said if I was to get one fact wrong that it would affect the credibility of my entire presentation. And rightly so. But the question was about the amount of alcohol recommended for women per WEEK.

The writer said they had researched and found that it was one a day.
Well, once again, that person WAS correct as many websites STILL advertise that amount as being safe, especially on American websites.And isn't alcohol, in particular a glass of deep red wine healthy for you?

 Not according to the on-going research done through the Canadian Cancer Society. The CCS figures that one alcoholic drink per day still gives gals a 1.5 chance of getting breast cancer. Yes, a low number, but I've beaten better odds. Alcohol can also lead to liver disease, obesity, alcoholism and heart disease. While alcohol might reduce clogging of the arteries under certain circumstances, it almost always raises blood pressure, causes weight gain and boosts triglyceride levels in the blood, all risk factors for heart disease. Triglycerides are fatty substances than can build up in the liver if the body doesn't break them down properly, and even small amounts of alcohol inhibit the body's processing of triglycerides.

 The final answer?  On the Canadian Cancer Society's website it is recommended that women drink LESS than one alcoholic beverage a day. They suggest 2-3 a week MAX.

So what's a girl to do besides whine about the fact that men can drink up to two a day and not suffer any major threats? Try drinking what your body really wants and needs: A tall glass of good water. Or try my Saudi Champagne life saver- a wine glass of ice almost filled with low sodium soda water and topped by a splash of white grape juice. Or eat a handful of carefully washed purple grapes and get the same heart health benefits, without the threat of cancer standing behind waiting to tap you on the shoulder. It beats whining about your wine intake and after a few less fuzzy mornings, headaches and rising weight scales, maybe you'll come to prefer the alternatives.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bone Density Scan IS for Wimps

Something new everyone. I was sent for a bone density scan last week.
The best news is it didn't hurt! There was no pain, no blood drawn, no contortoning  my limbs into pretzel positions. 

Being sent for a bone density scan can be as easy as going to the salon. Probably easier.

For me, getting to Prince George, a 3.5 hour drive down the highway, for the date I was given was the biggest issue. But here in the mighty north we have a solution called the Northern Health bus, where for the meager price of $10 one way, I was picked up, suitcase in hand, by the driver of a very large bus, complete with total wheel chair accessibility and gaped seating space and washroom, and left to sit back and enjoy someone else's driving down the highway.( or 1-888-647-4997)

What pleasure! I sat far enough back in the bus to not notice what was happening between the driver and the road. I pulled out my book, snuggled in and lost myself to someone else's world for a bit. A quick stop for another passenger (that made three of us) in Vanderhoof and we continued along, arriving in P.G. well ahead of the estimated four hour journey.

With the bus getting in at 7 pm, I had to overnight to make my appointment the following day at 11 am. This might be an issue with some, but there are hotels/motels in PG that will give you a medical discount for the asking.. And there's always the new Canadian Cancer Society's Kordyban Lodge that will take cancer related guests for $45 a night and non cancer related guests for $55 a night, three meals included.(Call them for info and reservations at 250-562-3535)
I was fortunate to stay with family overnight.

So, refreshed and full from an amazing power shake my sister-in-law  made, I arrived at the University Hospital of Northern BC. A volunteer in a pink jacket pointed upstairs, explaining the X Ray department was that way and down the corridor.
I arrived at the X Ray department and took a number where once called, I was checked-in and handed a form to give up at my next stop which was further down the same hallway.

Because I had a zipper in my pants, I was given a pair of flannel shorts to change into before being ushered into a darkened, small bedroom-sized exam room. I sat on the paper-lined stretcher/bed and answered questions about whether I had abstained from consuming extra calcium tablets before this exam as I'd been told.

I was then weighed and measured for height, an important step as you will soon see.

After lying down on the padded slab, a large cloth-covered box was placed beneath my knees, probably to force my spine further into the slab? A large white curved-headed machine came to life and like a scanner on a printer, it whirred as it moved slowly along the direction of my torso from my knees to my belly button. The head itself was a good foot and a half away from my body. No enclosure like in an MRI or something surrounding you like in a CT scan.
The process was repeated with the box removed and my legs lying flat in a divider to space my legs a certain distance apart. 

Easy, peasie, possibly more so because this was my second bone density scan. I had one two years ago to set "a marker" or a base for doctors to go by while I am on the cancer adjuvant therapy Letrazole. Letrazole is an anti-estrogen pill that can mess with your chances of osteoporosis and should be monitored for this.
I took a minute to discuss what the tech immediately could see from the results on her computer screen. A four cm change in my height kind of shocked me a bit.  I am no longer the 5'7 I have bragged about. I am a shorter 5'6 and change and going down. When did that happen?

This illustration shows gradual progression of bone density deterioration after the age of 35.

When you're about 30-35 the tech told me, you have reached maximum height and you will start to decline (or something like that...I don't quote well). According to, " After age 30, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed new bone formation. This leads to bone loss. Bone loss in women occurs fastest in the first few years after menopause, but bone loss continues into old age. Factors that can contribute to bone loss include having a diet low in calcium, not exercising, smoking, and taking certain medications such as corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are medications prescribed for a wide range of diseases, including arthritisasthma, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and other diseases. Corticosteroids may cause osteoporosis when used chronically.

So when I turned 40 and then 50 there was more to complain about than just memory, hearing and energy loss. I am the Shrinking Woman. Now what would be the positive spin for this?All I can think of is losing my hard earned privilege of riding the bumper cars at the Fall Fair. You have to be taller than the sign to get on!
Positive. Positive. Give me a minute, I'm still thinking...
Nope, maybe YOU can tell me what is positive about getting smaller? Alice in Wonderland found it handy. Surely we can too?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Post Breast Recon Update

It has been a year since my breast reconstruction surgery in Prince George. One year of a full cup on both sides of my brassiere. Over 365 days of looking at the normalcy beneath my shirt. Cancer took half of my breast away as the surgeon had to remove not only the tumor but enough around the tumor to try and get any spread tentacles or wisps of cancerous tissue.And now I have it back!

I have been on the post cancer treatment drugs of Tamoxifen and now Letrizole for three years now and I must tell you that the intensity of the hot flashes and the aching joints DOES wane. Either that or I don't notice them as much? No, I am sure they are less frequent and less intense. I also know what brings them on, like drinking hot beverages, red wine, spicy foods and stress. So sometimes I know when I am going to get one but do it to myself anyways. Sometimes it's worth it.

A hot flash acts like a choke collar for me. If my temper starts to rise, my heart speeds up, my face goes purple and water descends down from arm pits, my back, my neck, my brow. The act of trying to cool myself down before brain matter is boiled always defuses the stressful situation. At that moment I only want to survive the heat. Thank good ness my children have grown up. Now if I could get my husband to do things more my way, we could lessen the fanning.

But back to the boobs! My recon started with an expander on my right side to make room for the permanent silicone bag that would fill out my chest to past measurements. The left side was surgically gathered and raised, reducing it's size only marginally to resemble the right one. My scars have healed around the left nipple, cut so close to the darker brown line as to be almost invisible. All that remains is a slight pink line beneath the breast from the nipple to the chest.Two inches. It's nothing! The right side looks like I have a bruise which will possibly fade with more time.

The side of my chest where the lymph node surgery was done is still tight and felt with every movement of my right arm.It doesn't stop me from using it, especially where there is good food involved.I don't jig for halibut anymore though.

To sum things up, if you are sitting on the fence about whether or not to endure yet another surgery, I highly recommend you think about how wonderful it would feel to thumb your nose at your cancer and say, Ha! You didn't ruin MY life. I got my body back, better than ever. I have before and after pictures that are amazing! We're talking about changing zucchinis to grapefruits again.

 Breast recon isn't for everyone. For me,  it made a huge difference in my morale, self-confidence, and determination to keep the newly adjusted ones from ever getting operated on again.

Methods are changing for the better. There is less downtime, better results.Check into it. You can always decide NOT to do it once you hear all the facts.It's your body and your time.

 Please send me a note if you want to know more about my experience with this.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Relaying With Relish

 The Smithers Relay For Life was held on Saturday, June 7th at the Chandler School outdoor track. It started as a sunny morning  with volunteers popping in, coffees in hand to don their orange t-shirts marking them as organizers. Within minutes we were welcomed and put to work. We covered tables for the luncheon, set up tents and chairs, helped unload sound equipment, placed parking and no parking and team signs around.
We decorated and spread shirts across the Survivor Registration and  greeting station where people who have been through or are going through cancer get their special yellow shirts. They are encouraged to draw the outline of their hand on a banner, inside of which they will put how many years they have been cancer free and their name. The banner will later be walked around the track carried by and followed by the survivors. It's a powerful moment as people clap and cheer as we walk .

The first time I joined the survivors, I found this unnerving but now I receive it with honour as I know I am doing what I can to help others prevent a tangle with cancer.  Hugs and applause are always welcome in my life.

After a quick bite of fruit and vegis, I set-up and manned the Prevention Table where I talked to people about the ten tips I promote on lessening  cancer lottery tickets. I had samples of products one can reach for to lessen toxins, to use inside and outside their bodies to hopefully discourage a cancer growth. Things like vitamin D supplements, anti-oxidants like blueberries and ground flax seeds, using good oils instead of animal fats.

There were speeches from people going through their cancers and ones from people who have been out the other end. Stories of hope and loss, of optimism and of things the Canadian Cancer Society are currently funding in the way of research. Like: killing cancer cells with designer viruses and tracking prostate cancer with a protein biomarker, mapping the obesity problem, improving PET (positron emission technology) images among many, many others. (re: Top Canadian Cancer Society research stories of 2013)

There were head shavings on-site by people wanting to support others that are bald from cancer treatments. An anti " flavoured tobacco" petition was circulated and radon detector talks and draw. There was great music by local bands, local health food available and the sale of the luminaries: white flame-proof bags decorated in memory of cancer fighters present and past. A scoop of sand and a tea light candle are inserted in the bags which will line the track in the later hours. When they are lit, we walk the track in silence, thinking of these people.
The following is an excerpt from the end part of my luminary speech :

Tonight we light luminaries for those who's lights have gone out. We rekindle their memory with our flames and give them a moment of our silence. But we should also give these people our promise. That we will start looking after ourselves much better in their honour. Let them know that their passing from cancer has taught us a valuable lesson. That we will try harder to stay alive. To not take good health for granted.And that we will set a better example for those coming up behind us. For our children and the survivors of the future. So please think about this as you walk this last lap around the track in honour of those lights who are once again shining. The candles last mere minutes but our missing loved ones and the names of those currently fighting will live on forever in our hearts.

The moment was once again so emotional for me that I might have mentioned I will do what I can to get Houston relaying again in the summer of 2015.

It's never too late to give to the Canadian Cancer Society who does so many great things for anyone dealing with this disease. See their website at

Friday, May 23, 2014


Spring is in the air, as the song goes, but its also in the ground amidst the trees and the stinging nettles, the  trillium, phlox, trout lily, Dutchman's breeches, violets and many more wildflowers that the warmed ground starts to pop forth.
It's the beginning of the growth cycle which starts the filling of our freezer with our own harvested organic food, fresh from local forests. Like an Easter egg hunt, it's fun, great exercise and other than your time and possibly gas for your vehicle, it's free food for your fridge and freezer.

What am I talking about? Fiddleheads and morel mushrooms, of course. 

In Canada's coastal provinces such as  New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Mother's Day signals it's time to start checking any flooded areas for the first signs of a non-flowering wild fern called fiddleheads. These natural perennial and delicious vegetables grow up from the ground as spores rather than from seeds and boast about 10,000 variations. 

WHAT DO THEY TASTE LIKE?   With the outer part being firm and green, a fiddlehead at first bite tastes like asparagus, but then the inside has a softer leafy fern, so you will notice a following consistency of broccoli tops. Excellent when cooked, drained and tossed with a bit of lemon or vinegar. Pre-boil, rinse well and use in other dishes like casseroles, soups and stir-frys. Endless uses for this spring-must that is higher in anti-oxidants than blueberries!

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR? As they rise from their base or their "clump" fiddleheads are tightly coiled, closely resembling the ends of a fiddle. With the type that is best to eat, both sides of the coiled fern have a covering of light, rusty brown rice-paper (NOT black) like skin that as the fern uncurls, falls off. It is rumoured that hummingbirds like to use this dried fabric as lining for their nests. 

NOW WHAT DO I DO?When picking, we take the time to flick the exterior red fluff off before putting the fiddlehead in our bucket as it makes for much easier cleaning when the day is done.
 Once thoroughly rinsed at least three times in cold running water to separate any leftover fluff from the greens, fiddleheads must be boiled in a pot of water(to get them clean enough to eat) for at least three to fifteen minutes, depending on your taste for crunchy or soft vegetables. Rinse well before eating.

 After the stalk reaches a certain height, fiddleheads begin to uncurl, eventually standing straight and full, pretty when placed on the table as part of a floral arrangement but too bitter to eat.
It is the tightly coiled fronds that you want to pick for eating.  It is best to pick them before their stalks are barely out of the earth. That way they will be nice and firm and will keep for weeks in the fridge.


Morels are a wild mushroom that pop their heads out of the loamy earth only in the early spring. Although most species of mushrooms are found in very distinct habitats, the morel can be found in forests of spruce, cottonwood, Douglas fir, maple, beech or poplar trees. They can be found singly or even better, in large groups (it's like winning the lottery when you find the odd big patch).


 Black morels (which appear first) tend to be more exclusively in hardwood forests, but not around any particular type of tree. Finding them is often like a connect-the-dots game. When you find one, be still and look nearby. When the spores that created the morel you just picked were jettisoned years ago, there likely was a wind pattern that blew the spores in a particular path. There may have been a nutrient source or environment (soil type, moisture, pH, etc.) that was conducive for growth. Look for the patterns.

Morels are particularly fond of areas that have burned the previous year. They seem to prefer soil that has been saturated from floods, snowmelts, swamps and rain so wear waterproof rubber or hiking boots when you go.

You can find the black, yellow and grey morel mushrooms growing near logs, under decomposing leaves, under dying elm trees, ash trees, popular trees, pine trees, or in old apple orchards


.Not only is it the best-tasting mushroom, the morel is also the easiest to identify and safest to eat of all wild mushrooms. Generally, if you find a sponge-like protuberance, 1 to 6 inches tall pushing skyward among fallen forest leaves and grasses on spring days between 60 and 80 degrees, you're in luck. The stems and caps of morels are hollow, and the stem is attached at the base of the cap. It makes a great first mushroom to learn because its spongy shape is so distinctive and easy to identify. If you cut the morel open, it should be completely HOLLOW. If it's not do NOT eat it. And remember, any wild mushrooms MUST BE COOKED BEFORE EATING.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Support The Smithers Relay 2014

Come one, come all.

It doesn't matter that Houston won't be hosting a Cancer Relay this year. I am counting on the fact that Houston still wants to support the Canadian Cancer Society because cancer doesn't stop for anyone or anything.

This year an expected 30,000 PLUS BC people will go down this terrifying road. How did we get to the day when those kinds of numbers started? And more important, what can we do to get that number down?

We obviously need to learn more about what promotes cancer to grow and take off with your life. We need to educate everyone on the simple ways that they can help themselves to lessen their chance of getting cancers and we need more research into how to stop cancer for good. All of that takes money.

We have come a long way from the days of bloodletting to cure ailments. We now know how dangerous smoking and second-hand smoke is. How pesticides and toxins in our beauty products and in the foods we eat and the air and water can harm us. Studies have shown that indoor tanning before the age of 35 raises the risk of melanoma by 75 per cent! Who knew that ten years ago?

If you do get diagnosed with cancer, the CCS is  there for you almost instantly. You are supplied with a wealth of pamphlets, numbers to call, people to see to get you through. Dietitians, physio therapists, support groups,mental therapy. It's all available. You're in good hands. But again: it takes money to pay for this spectacular world of assistance. That money comes from these important fundraisers, the largest being the Relay for Life.

Get your friends together and get a team started. Let's make Houston a presence at the Smithers Relay this June 7 from 10-10 at the (previous) Chandler School outdoor field. A fabulous view of the mountain tops, close to downtown, walking distance to Safeway for lattes and grapes.

This year's focus is petitioning for the ban of Flavoured Tobacco. And promoting your ONE THING you will vow to do to become more pro-active about your cancer prevention.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at Thanks everyone.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Will You CHOOSE to get CANCER?

I don't know how better to say it? I wrote a book about my death defying  experience with breast cancer, terrified that someone else I knew was headed down the Cancer Freeway. But it's still happening. Another one, then another. It's like the cancer boulder is gaining momentum and it's flattening everyone in it's path. 

It was four years ago when I was cancer-naive. Yes, there are still people out there that know nothing about how cancer works; about what you can do to up your chances of avoiding the disease.

The Canadian Cancer Society recognizes that almost 50 % of new cancer diagnosis are caused by

And what is YOUR lifestyle like? If you're maintaining a healthy body weight by getting lots of exercise, eating well with lots of fruits and vegetables, drinking good water instead of too much alcohol or sugary options and have lessened your toxins, number one by  becoming a non-smoker or avoiding second-hand smoke, then you have GREATLY REDUCED your chance of winning that cancer lottery!

Add 1000 mg minimum of Vitamin D supplements, boost your immune system with weapons like organic blueberries, ground flax seed, decaf green tea, kale and other green  leafy vegetables and take up a stress release like Yoga, swimming, meditation or getting enough sleep and you're even MORE protected from that devastating tap on the shoulder that says, "You're next."

Trust me. You do NOT want to end up with the Frankenstein body parts. You do NOT want to experience a day with chemo chemicals rattling around your brain, you do NOT want to lay half-naked on a steel slab while a stranger lines up the blue tattoo on your breast with the radiation co-ordinates. You will regret having to spend the rest of your life worrying cancer will return.

You have alternatives.You can shape up your life right now. Tighten that anti-cancer belt even more.

If you are of the 30% who are pre-disposed to getting cancer, you have the advantage of keeping your thumb on any possible run-aways, until its detection. That's where a regular check-up with your family doctor comes in.And a tumour that only had the chance to grow to 1 cm has a much better chance of being survived than one that is 4cm.

Is it sinking in yet? Or will you continue to sink?

I chose to swim instead of sink because I'm not going down again without a better fight. This time, one in my favour.
Pass the brocolli please.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Amen to Easter Eggs!

Not to get too religious on you, but ever wonder what the Easter Bunny and eggs have to do with the Christian's belief in the resurrection of Christ?

Well in the beginning, Pagans were more common than Christians. The Pagans celebrated the Spring and the regrowth of all living things with the eggs as a symbol of fertility and the rabbit, known for it's ability to rapidly populate. This was called Easter ( from the goddess Ishtar or another theory from the Saxon's Mother goddess Eostre or from the Latin word for spring "eastre".)

The Christians wanted to find a way to encourage the Pagans to sign up so they melded Easter with the resurrection of Christ, as it too was a celebration of new life and rebirth of all things.

And what better way to celebrate anything but with chocolate? Someone even suggested it was because Christ's last dessert was chocolate.( You can find ANYthing on the Internet). Who am I to disagree? I LOVE that part. If it was all about hard-boiled eggs I don't think we could count as many kids in on the celebrating.

For me it's all about spreading the joy of the beginning of Spring and all that it means to our surroundings. It's the start of mating season for many species, as seen by the squirrels chasing each other in pairs across the snow. The first poke of green noticed in the dry flower bed in the front yard. The deer trying to nibble off any sign of vegetation on the tips of our lilac bush. And the excuse to cram my maw full of candy Easter eggs.

My hunt starts in the stores, trying to find eggs made of a high percentage of dark chocolate. Not an easy task. But after finding some, I put them around the house. Then I enjoy finding them for weeks to come after forgetting where they are.

But the BEST part about my Easter is when my gal pal Sandi and I dress up as ski bunnies and hit the slopes with our baskets of goodies for everyone. Giving is so way much more fun than receiving! The looks on the kid's faces as we bend down to hand them a treat. Priceless. Picture it: Sandi's bunny ears tilting backwards from the wind as we shoosh down the slopes, chocolate eggs bouncing from our baskets as we hunt down the deserving and the undeserving alike. It's Easter. EVERYone deserves a bite of heaven.

Amen to that!

  • symbols of new life and rebirth, and the Christian celebration of Easter is all

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

GaGa For Butterscotch? You'll Love Baobab!

Mmmmmm. Just smell it! And I do each and every morning  when I pour a teaspoon of Burt's Bees shampoo with Baobab into my palm and inhale deeply. The soothing scent whirls throughout my brain and runs like butterscotch ripple inside my body straight through the rest of me to settle in my feet. It's instant calm. I take a second sniff and feel like I'm floating. WHAT a way to start a day!

So what is it?
  1. 1.
    a short tree with an enormously thick trunk and large edible fruit. It can live to a great age.

Hmmmm. But what IS it?

Okay, so I went to

LOOK! They grow like dangly earrings for Giants...

Baobab trees grow in Africa and  have been

 feeding people for 200-500 

years, thus the nickname 

"trees of life."

  • Contain six times as much vitamin C as oranges
  • Contain twice as much calcium as milk
  • Baobab Fruit is packed with B vitamins
  • Excellent source of magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and antioxidants

But it's that smell! You gotta try it! Next time you hear I'm doing another "Prevent Your Cancer" demo come by and stick your nose into the bottle. Because it's Burt's Bees, it's also a 99.6% natural product. In the old days, this feeling was only had after smoking a cigarette with a latte in hand. Mellow for five minutes before WHAM!!!!!!!!!!! At least this fruit won't have me spinning like a toy top for a few hours. I wish Mom had found it when I was younger. My butt may have been spared a few spankings. And I might have slowed down long enough to learn that I didn't know everything.

HMmm. Baobab.Maybe It could change your life!

Having a bad day? Go sniff some Baobab shampoo and live longer. Because looking for a real baobab on a grocery shelf around here is right up there with finding a young, fresh coconut with juicy flesh you can spoon out like butter. Or winning a lottery.

 It's not going to happen anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Three Months To Lose The Tire: You CAN Do It Too!

And no...I'm not sucking my stomach in! That was bonafide hard work of 40 minutes a day for six days a week, every week since starting this January first. Three months and my pants are feeling nice and loose for a change.
We're talking Aqua Fit two days a week which is fabulous core work on those stomach muscles. Then a class of run spurts mixed with weights called Circuit Training with Jenny at 6 a:m Tuesday and Thursdays followed by a 20 minute slow jog to the Industrial area and back to the Leisure Facility.Friday and saturday is skiing on Hudson bay Mountain. Burn those buns!!

Diet Change was substituting all oils (butter, mayo, olive oil, fats) to coconut oil- the type for cooking which is unscented and tasteless. All cheese was LOW fat and scarce. Any carbs were Quinoa, quinoa flour, brown rice or brown rice flour, brown rice pastas or sprouted grains. Only organic red meats like moose and deer and only in small quantities. More salmon and trout, some chicken and beans.

Vegis included yams instead of potatoes, lots of leafy greens including Kale chips when a salty craving hit. A variety of colours with yellow and red peppers, green zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, parsnips, asparagus, always trying something different to get the unique nutrients each variety offers.

Fruits- well an apple a day with a Tbsp of natural peanut butter for dipping for a snack at 3 p.m.
The snack at 10 a.m is usually the same or another fruit with no fat yogurt as a dip. Papya is known to keep you healthy, so I used plenty of it as well as red grapes, oranges, kiwis, bananas, again a mix.

Breakfast is always the same- oatmeal with fruit puree, no-fat yogurt, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with ground flax seed and almond milk. Lunch is a bowl of soup, never cream soup when on a diet, and dinner is less meat based than plant based. One quarter meat, one quarter a carb mentioned above and half the plate in vegis. It's not uncommon for us to have 5-6 vegi options for dinner. I'm quite fond of one pot meals where I cook things separate and throw them together into a casserole. Hamburger with onions, zucchini, mushroom, peppers, whatever needs to be used up, mixed with a can of diced, no-salt-added tomatoes and pre-cooked brown rice pasta. 

Dessert? I cook my famous chocolate macaroon recipe that has no flour or sugar and is sweetened with pureed dates. Top that with no fat yogurt, seeds of choice and fruit and you have a royal treat happening. Keep that up for one month at a time and see what happens. I bet you'll have your own success story like I had. If I can do it, you can too. It takes a few more feet being raised instead of more "treats." Treats are for people that have lost weight. Not for those trying to lose it. There will be a time and a place for spoiling your slimmer half once you get there.

Now, what else shall we work on inspiring you to do? Want to learn to play the piano? Naw, me either. There will be an app out soon enough for that.Now if we could only get an app that pipes up when the urge to consume your body weight in chocolate arises??